I’m Nicola Handley and work in our Asbestos Related Disease team.
During my 17 years here, I’ve progressed from being a secretary to becoming a senior associate solicitor. This is all thanks to the firm’s emphasis on career progression, personal growth and achieving your ambitions.
Supporting My Family
Having a career with flexibility means a great deal to me and it’s extremely valuable.
When the pandemic began, we started working from home and Irwin Mitchell introduced a flexible by choice working policy. This means colleagues are trusted to perform the right work at the right time, in the right way. We can be flexible because we care so much about what we do.
My family is really important to me. I have a husband, two children and a dog. I’m also very lucky to have had amazing parents who’ve continually supported me throughout my career.
My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s around nine years ago, but her condition deteriorated and she was diagnosed with dementia in March 2020. This meant she could no longer live independently. It was very tough.
We made the decision to move her from Essex to Yorkshire. The flexible by choice policy enabled me to facilitate this move, making sure she was settled and had a care package in place. The policy has also allowed me to be on hand when I need to be. I can take her to all of her dentist appointments, doctors’ appointments and do her shopping as well as managing my day job. This is one of the greatest things that I’m able to give back to her as her child.
My father was a retired social worker. He was also diagnosed with prostate cancer nine years ago following a well-man check when he came back to the UK for my son’s christening. My father always amazed me because he never let his diagnosis get him down. Instead he reached out to others to support them continuously even if it was very simple things by listening to their own story and experiences in life. Sadly, my father died in May 2022 and it has been a difficult time but my own personal experiences really help me to understand what my clients are going through on a daily basis.
Having supportive colleagues and managers has been so important for me during the past three years. It’s enabled me to focus on my family at the right times and my career at the right times. They trust me to deliver for my clients and there is no better job satisfaction than when I do.
A Rewarding Career
I’ve always enjoyed standing up for people and using the law to make sure there’s some fairness in the world. There are so many different areas of law that can help clients get the support they need.
Being a lawyer here is so much more than offering legal advice. For me, it’s about supporting clients following a life-changing diagnosis of mesothelioma and trying to make a positive difference. Dealing with an incurable cancer can be so challenging for my clients and their family and it’s my job to do everything I can to get them the care, treatment and financial support that they need. It’s hugely rewarding when you can achieve that given everything they’re going through - that’s the human touch that matters to me.
I’ve always enjoyed working within a team and being collaborative because we challenge one another, and learn and grow together. By making decisions and taking responsibility for our actions, we’re able to use our expertise to achieve great results and embrace change.
Having a positive work-life balance is important. It can be challenging given the clients I work with, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Work is one of my happy places; it’s what keeps me going.
Making A Difference
Working within a firm that’s diverse and inclusive is hugely important to me. I feel that I’m making a change not just for my generation, but for my children’s generation as well.
When I was younger, my dad said to me “you’ve got to work twice as hard, you’re black and you’re a woman.” And it shouldn’t have to be that way. Working here, there are lots of individuals that inspire everybody to be the best that they can be and you’re really listened to.
I think the benefits of having such a diverse and inclusive culture is huge. We act for various clients, and to understand their needs, you need people who are in similar circumstances and have similar backgrounds.
Whilst working here, there have been many changes and I think going paperless for a law firm is very positive. We understand our responsibility to help build a better future.
Come Join Us
My time here should speak volumes about why you should come and join us.
We’re trusted to shape our days and deliver positive results for both our clients and communities. The rewards and benefits also suit colleague’s lifestyle choices, and a key benefit is our two volunteering days, where colleagues can give back to the community.
Our commitment to being a responsible business is impactful and working in a firm where you’re encouraged to progress both personally and professionally is invaluable.
If you like the sound of this then would love you to join our team.
Read Nicola's professional profile
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